Local News

DENR: Prep work on Chatham coal ash dump might be breaking rules

Posted May 29, 2015

Duke Energy closed its coal-fired power plant in Moncure in 2012. But lagoons of toxic coal ash remain on the site near the Cape Fear River.
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— State officials said Friday that they are investigating a possible violation of environmental laws near an open-pit mine in Chatham County that is being prepared to hold coal ash.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said Green Meadow LLC might have broken state laws by failing to obtain a permit for the runoff being created as it prepares the former Brickhaven mine in Moncure to hold coal ash from several Duke Energy power plants.

Duke said last fall that it planned to move about 3 million tons of ash from the Riverbend Steam Station in Mount Holly and the L.V. Sutton Steam Electric Plant in Wilmington to clay mines in Sanford and Moncure as "engineered structural fill." Filling the clay mines with ash will help reclaim previously unusable land and will allow faster action than trying to site a new landfill, officials said.

“Coal ash cleanup is a priority for Gov. (Pat) McCrory and our department,” Tracy Davis, director of the Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources, which issues construction stormwater permits, said in a statement. “As with any project, our department is committed to ensuring that all required permits are obtained and environmental protections are in place.”

A construction stormwater permit and an approved erosion and sedimentation control plan are required when a construction project disturbs at least one acre of land.

Chatham County officials have cited Green Meadow for violating the local erosion and sedimentation control ordinance for work to prepare a railroad bed needed to transport coal ash from a rail spur to the Brickhaven mine. The county’s notice states that Green Meadow started its project without an approved sedimentation and erosion control plan.

DENR regulators visited the site Friday and didn't see any visible signs of violations of state water quality laws, but they are investigating other possible environmental violations, officials said.

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